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Edwin L. Marin
A strange mix of genres gives it curiosity value but it manages to be a solid B-movie as well
Tully Rice is a teenager trying to get a break in life but saddled with an image gained from his father being the infamous bank robber Mark Rice. With his father hanged, Tully is working in a local store but cracks under constant pushing from the local deputy. The sheriff tries to help him out by finding him another job, but Tully rides out of town after a girl he met.
He finds himself staying with her and her extended family a group of teenagers who carry out minor robberies and such. As time passes Tully finds himself drawn into the gang and put in position where he must decide the path he will follow.
I watched this western because the title caught my eye in the TV guide and then the story sounded a bit modern for a western setting and my curiosity was raised. The plot is very much a case of 'Cowboy without a Cause' in that it mixes the 1950's 'disaffected youth' films with a traditional western feel. The film has the unmistakable feel of both genres and I was surprised by how well they seemed to mix even if the 1950's youth element took away a little from the feel of the film as a western. At first I thought that the modern parallels would make for a bad film but they work pretty well and make for an interesting story. The western stuff is merely a twist rather than an integral part of the film and I'm not sure just how much fact this film actually has in it despite it's claim to be essentially a true story.
The cast are all OK and is mostly a load of sullen teenagers giving the performances they had seen in other films of the genre. Tamblyn is a little bit bland and never really convinced me that he had a really dark side that he was battling against throughout the film. Talbott is a bit better and works her emotional stuff to better effect while the support cast has reasonable turns from Marlowe, Lopez and Barnes.
Overall this is a rather strange mix of genres but it works better than I expected it to. Outside of the curiosity value of this mix, the film does work pretty well as both a western and an 'affected youth' B-movie it is fun but trashy and I found it enjoyable despite acknowledging it's limitations. As another user commented, the cinematography is good and is responsible for making some bits feel like a western but making other bits feel like there's going to be a knife fight or a game of chicken at any moment! Not a great movie but interesting and quite fun.
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